NASCAR took bold steps to curb lost wheels and ballast weight on Wednesday, issuing Draconian penalties for the two infractions, both of which will now carry a mandatory four-race suspension for the crew chiefs.
Officially, the rules bulletin issued Wednesday afternoon included the following language:
188.8.131.52.1 P3 PENALTY VIOLATION EXAMPLES
Violation examples could include but are not limited to:
.a -- Unapproved parts or system configuration of importance but, not rising to higher numbered levels -- examples:
.b -- Unapproved secondary steering linkage.
.c -- Unapproved secondary drivetrain components.
.d -- Unapproved added weight and/or weight affixed improperly (e.g.; Unapproved added weight (size and material); Unapproved added weight location, but not of a nature rising to a higher numbered Penalty.
.e -- Failure to submit and have approved secondary components, such as a radiator mount, oil pan, etc.
.f -- Engine ancillary components (i.e., valve covers, outer oil pans, pulleys, belts, etc.).
.g -- Approved parts that fail their intended use (e.g.; shock absorbers that fail to rebound regardless of reason).
.h -- Materials added to the rear bumper which, in NASCAR's judgment, either primarily increases the weight of the rear bumper, or might aid and/or promote aggressive driving, or might do both.
.i -- Circumventing or interfering with open radio communications between the driver and spotter and team which the fans should be able to listen in to (other than verifiable equipment failure).
.j -- Faulty, missing, or ineffective seams on required interior sheet metal seals (excluding safety barriers such as firewalls).
.k -- Coil spring violation.
.l -- Heating or chilling any parts, systems or materials that are not allowed to be heated or chilled by the Rules. NOTE: If relative to tires or fuel, then a P5 Penalty.
.m -- Rear body heights not met.
.n -- Loss of wheel(s) due to improper installation. (Mandatory minimum four race suspension of the crew chief and tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheel(s).)
.o -- Loss or separation of ballast weight from the vehicle. (Mandatory minimum four race suspension of the crew chief, car chief and head engineer.)
The last two provisions are far and away the most serious, especially if the violation occurs on a team in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Losing a crew chief for four weeks at Chase time could prove devastating, but it appears NASCAR wanted to send a stern message to the teams.